Malawi is popularly known as the Warm Heart of Africa. It’s a nickname based on the friendliness and warm-hearted people you encounters throughout the country. But the beautiful smiles of the people act as masks for the lack of reasonable daily needs they experience daily.
If you engage with the people of Malawi and dig deeper about their lives, a majority will share the common Chichewa phrase “ndili m’maluzi,” which means “am broke.” The majority of people lack proper access to food, clothes, schooling, medical services, opportunities for jobs, and much more. There is a common outcry about shortages for all types of products, and business people have trouble getting the resources to purchase needed merchandise.
Were things always this way in Malawi? Not quite. Malawi is an agrarian country that for decades placed all its hopes and economic stability on one main crop: tobacco. Economic turbulence and a sharp, deep dive in the need for tobacco products created instability. Malawi also did not find a key replacement crop. Gone were days when the months of April through September would see the nation’s currency, the kwacha, strengthen against the US dollar. The graph below shows the trends of US dollar/Malawi kwacha exchange rate from January to July 2019— overall a steep depreciation of the kwacha.
The downfall of tobacco, which came about partly due to global campaigns against smoking, brought challenging ripple effects to Malawi. Most common people make their living as subsistence farmers and their experiments with various crops have not been successful. With about 80% of the nation’s population living in remote areas, and farming their main source of income, a lack of an economic engine has hindered the majority of the population.
The lack of an economic engine has brought forth lots of misery among youth and adults alike. Parents have been unable to pay for school fees and children are forced to drop out of school. With a lack of education and job opportunities, many people simply linger around with no hope.
Good Soil Partners is working on eliminating this hopelessness. We are helping student attain their educational dreams—and a better life—by providing them with school fees. Yes, Malawi is in an economic crisis, but Good Soil Partners is actively engaging its partners to establish various entrepreneurship initiatives so that sponsored high school and college students don’t end up in an already alarming pool of unemployed graduates. Good Soil’s leadership and development programs are creating a new generation of business leaders who will lead Malawi to a stronger economic future.